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Responding to Spinelli
Joseph Spinelli
November 04, 1991
Don King declined to be interviewed. His attorney, Robert Hirth, wrote in a letter to SI that "Spinelli's animus toward Mr. King is longstanding and well known." Of Spinelli's charges that King associated with mob figures, Hirth said, "During the 1980s Mr. King was repeatedly and thoroughly investigated by the government, as well as by various private organizations. Despite these extensive investigations, no charge has ever been brought against Mr. King—or colorable evidence found—that he has ties to organized crime."
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November 04, 1991

Responding To Spinelli

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Don King declined to be interviewed. His attorney, Robert Hirth, wrote in a letter to SI that "Spinelli's animus toward Mr. King is longstanding and well known." Of Spinelli's charges that King associated with mob figures, Hirth said, "During the 1980s Mr. King was repeatedly and thoroughly investigated by the government, as well as by various private organizations. Despite these extensive investigations, no charge has ever been brought against Mr. King—or colorable evidence found—that he has ties to organized crime."

Hirth did not specifically address the allegation that King sent a hit man to Las Vegas to warn Richie Giachetti to lay off King. In an Aug. 8, 1981, New York Post story, King, in response to an inference drawn by that paper that Giachetti believed that King had put a contract out on Giachetti's life, said, "There is no reason for me to put a contract out on anybody.... It's absolute paranoia from a diabolical and sinister mind."

Richie Giachetti also declined to be interviewed. In a letter to SI, his attorney, Robert Ruggeri, in an apparent reference to Giachetti's having taped conversations with King and Larry Holmes, wrote that Giachetti was at one time "a very bitter man" because he had been fired by King and Holmes. "Any comment that may have been made by Mr. Giachetti during this period was said with every intention to strike back at the very heart of Don King...," said Ruggeri. "Giachetti at no time believed the allegations of a contract on his life, nor did he then or does he now believe there is any 'mob connection' between King and other individuals."

Jersey Joe Walcott, now 77 and ailing, denies that as New Jersey's boxing commissioner he accepted money to expedite the processing of a promoter's license for the man Spinelli calls Bobby. "Nobody ever gave me anything," Walcott says. "I wouldn't accept it. I can't believe this. Nobody's ever given me a thing. No, no, no." Of Spinelli's assertion that Walcott answered yes when a wired Victor Quintana asked him whether he had received a $3,000 payment, Walcott says, "He said that to me? Who? I can't believe this."

Bob Lee, the president of the International Boxing Federation, who was Walcott's deputy commissioner in New Jersey, denied that Bobby gave him $3,000 to pass on to Walcott. Lee says that he did receive a lesser sum from Bobby, but that this was a contribution to help finance Lee's unsuccessful 1982 campaign for the presidency of the World Boxing Association. "My recollection is that [Bobby] gave me $1,000 toward my campaign," Lee says. "He never gave me any money to give to Joe Walcott...."

Lee acknowledges receiving an envelope containing $1,000 from Quintana, but says that this, too, was a campaign gift: "Quintana came to the office, and he said, 'This is going to help you with your campaign.' And he left the envelope on my desk."

Jos� Sulaim�n, the World Boxing Council president since 1975, denies that he received a $5,000 kickback from Holmes to protect Holmes's heavyweight title, a charge that, according to Spinelli, Holmes made on a Giachetti tape that was played before the Crown Royal grand jury. Sulaim�n speculates that if Holmes made such a payment, it was for the purpose of buying an ad in a WBC publication. Sulaim�n says, "He may have paid $5,000 to buy an ad in that magazine congratulating the WBC."

Larry Holmes says, "Everybody donates, makes donations to everybody's campaigns—to the office, the WBC, whatever. But I never made a payment of $5,000 to Jos� Sulaim�n to protect my title. Whoever said this is absolutely wrong." Of the Giachetti tape on which he allegedly admitted such a payment, Holmes says, "If there was anything on the tape, it wasn't me. That's wrong." Holmes declined to discuss the meeting with a wired Quintana and the Reverend Al Sharpton at which, according to Spinelli, Holmes said he had perjured himself before the grand jury.

The Reverend Al Sharpton confirms that at Michael Franzese's request he helped arrange the 1983 meeting between them, Quintana, Bobby and King. Sharpton says he was aware that Franzese was a Colombo family member but assumed that the King meeting was strictly to set up a boxing promotion. Sharpton acknowledges that he became an FBI informant in the Crown Royal case but disputes Spinelli's assertion that he had already done so at the time he and Quintana met with Holmes in July 1983. "I never worked with [the FBI] until much later," Sharpton says. Sharpton also challenges Spinelli's contention that Holmes admitted to Sharpton and Quintana that he committed perjury before the grand jury. "I don't believe anybody in their right mind would believe [the FBI agents] were so benevolent...that they would let Larry Holmes go with a statement like that," Sharpton says.

Saoul Mamby, Anthony House and Chet Cummings could not be reached. Tom Lawrence and Barry Burnstein are dead.

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